Illinois Lawmakers Consider iGaming

A bill to legalize online casino games and poker has been submitted by Illinois state Rep. Bob Rita with the aim to augment the online sports betting already legalized.

Illinois state Rep. Bob Rita recently filed the Internet Gaming Act, which would authorize casinos and racetracks to launch up to three online casino platforms in Illinois. The initial license fee would be $500,000 with a $250,000 renewal. All proceeds would be directed to the state gaming fund. The Illinois Gaming Board would oversee internet gaming regulations.

The bill is designed to get iGaming sites up and running quickly. Once signed into law, the bill provides that the Illinois Gaming Board will have 90 days to draw up the industry’s regulations. The bill authorizes the board to take as many regulations as possible from other states and from current brick-and-mortar gaming regulations to speed up the process.

Specifically, the measure would allow Illinois casinos and racetracks to offer online casinos, either via proprietary platforms or through contracting with a partner. It also includes “provisions for age verification, location of wagering, responsible gaming” and other key rules. The bill would open up the market to 13 licenses, one for each of the state’s 10 casinos and three racetracks. Each license holder, in turn, could have up to three skins. The tax rate would be 12 percent of adjusted gross gaming revenue.

Five sports betting operators appear to be the most likely contenders for a license: BetRivers, William Hill, FanDuel, DraftKings, and PointsBet. However, Barstool, BetMGM, Unibet and others reportedly are eyeing setting up shop in the state.

The bill expressly states that providers will be able to accept wagers from out-of-state bettors, opening the door for a compact with online poker rooms from different states. A section of the bill states the Illinois Gaming Board “may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate, administer and regulate multijurisdictional approved internet games, including, but not limited to, poker.” Currently the only multi-state compact available is on between players living in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

The bill also calls for the regulators to adopt emergency rules within 90 days of its passage. That could make Illinois the fastest of any state to go from legislation to implementation of online gambling. If an operator that already has a sports betting license applies for an online casino or poker license, the bill requires the gaming board to issue a one-year temporary license to within 30 days.

The bill has been referred to the Rules Committee. If it passes, it will head to the floor for a full vote.